KUPD presents second Desert Uprising
Astounding bands, upgraded tickets, absence of fires create top notch show

Jane's Addiction
AP Photo

Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction performed the same set
as they did at Desert Uprising, Sept. 14 at Ak-Chin Pavilion,
Phoenix, Ariz., several weeks earlier during Uproar Festival atthe First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Ill.

While I am waiting at Mayhem Fest for Mastadon to appear, KUPD announces the lineup for its fall Desert Uprising show. My friend Grace and I immediately run over to buy tickets for both days.

We attended both nights of last year’s show and loved the bands, we both vowed never to come again to the festival. The continuous setting of numerous fires in the lawn near our seats marred the otherwise spectacular show. When the male participants started throwing plastic water bottles in the fire, we refused to put our lungs through inhaling the toxins that enveloped the air and made it hard to breath. However two nights of great bands for the special price of $10 is t oo tempting to pass up as we decide to give Desert Uprising another chance.

Friday Sep. 13 at Ak-Chin Pavilion
(formerly Ashley Furniture Pavilion)

This is the bigger day of the festival with the popular California metal band Avenged Sevenfold headlining the show. Although the show starts at 2 p.m. on the side stage, we opt to come later to see the bands that play the main stage, as it is still over 100 degrees in Phoenix.

When we get to the concert, we park right by the exit so we can avoid all the traffic leaving the concert. T his will be a big plus especially after being out in the extreme heat. We run through the parking lot to reach the gate and hear HIM playing its popular “Wings of a Butterfly.” I am the most excited to see this Finnish metal band. Both Grace and I are wearing one of my HIM tee shirts with the Heartagram, the band’s personal symbol designed by its lead singer Ville Valo. When inside, we stand by the fence to get a closer look and see the band members playing passionately; but to our disappointment, they only do five songs. Their classic metal, post punk Goth and alternative music would have been better suited to headlining a smaller venue. Nonetheless, I appreciate seeing them if only for 25 minutes.

Up next is the newest of the bands, “Halestorm,” with siblings Lizzy and Arejay Hale. After releasing an EP as teenagers, the  band has been performing together since 1999. Although labeled an alternative hard rock band, its songs also contain a myriad of other styles. Lizzy is a very good vocalist, but I feel the band is lost in trying to combine too many genres and its country western song did not work and seemed out of place. I will discover it is the weakest band of the two-day show.

As soon as Volbeat hits the stage, I find it the best band of the night. I have seen it previously and am still surprised how this Danish band needs only a bare stage and their hard rocking heavy metal to command and keep my attention. Tonight the  band is even better than before as it plays its mixture of metal, hard rock, punk, rockabilly and alternative. Their musical fusion, killer guitar licks and charismatic singer Michael Poulsen hits the mark unlike Halestorm.

When the headliner Avenged Sevenfold comes on stage with a dramatic set featuring shooting fire, I am mesmerized. Although only familiar with several of its songs, I feel swept up in the crowd’s enthusiasm for this American heavy metal hard rock band. When I listen to each song, I hear the influence of a classic metal or punk band played with distinct style. Since each song is so different from the previous one, I stay interested and impressed by Synyster Gates’ amazing guitar work. I hear shades of Metallic, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Black Flag all within an hour.

We get out of the venue parking lot in record time. Night one is a great overall concert experience for only $10 . We are grateful that there are no fires in the lawn but only on Avenged Sevenfold’s stage. We do not know if any are started or if the most of the lighters are confiscated at the gate. A fire truck sits parked just outside the venue all night. D o the firefighters put them out when they intermittently hose the audience in the lawn?

Saturday, Sep. 14, at Ak-Chin Pavilion

We feel more relaxed for the second night of Desert Uprising. No rush hour traffic and the venue atmosphere is not as hectic. We secure the same parking spot as the night before. Again, we only go to see the main stage performers and are right up front in the lawn. Despite KUPD giving away free tickets at last night’s show, this is a much sparser crowd than last night.

We are only there for 10 minutes and are watching Circa Survive when the ushers come around to the lawn crowd and tell us we can go sit in the better sections with the awning and closer seats for free. We quickly run to secure the closest seats in the sections allowed and are ecstatic at our good fortune. These seats would have sold for much more than $10. Our friend Alan, has gotten a free ticket that Grace picked up the night before so he is really feeling lucky. All of a sudden, the concert becomes much better as this is so unexpected. The young band Circa Survive sounds much better up close, and we have a much clearer view of its performance. They are a very good alternative rock band that puts a lot of passion into its performance.

Next up is Coheed and Cambria, an American progressive metal band that I have seen before and enjoy just as much this time. Although they are called progressive, I hear ‘70s influence in their songs, especially in the guitar parts.

Although I was never a big fan of Jane’s Addiction, I am looking forward to seeing it as it is an important ‘90s American alternative metal rock band. It has the campy stage show that I expect from lead singer Perry Farrell, who is a big fan of ‘70s glitter rock. Two girls in long white dresses ascend and then float over the stage. The girls will switch costumes from white angelic to black S and M leather. Farrell has cleared up his drug addiction and has a lot of energy at 54. The band blows me away. I do not expect such a good visual stage show with such intensity and excitement from this band that has broken up and reformed several times. It is hard to decide whether to watch Farrell perform or to watch Dave Navarro shred his guitar. Navarro exceeds expectations and is an exceptional guitar player and showman. They will be the highlight of the second night of the festival.

I have also never seen main act, Alice in Chains, and want to see if a ‘90s grunge band is still relevant especially since its original singer had passed away. Although more heavy metal with blues and punk influences than alternative rock, this Seattle band was branded as a grunge band when it first started. Its themes are dark. Jerry Cantrell the lead guitarist is a dynamic guitarist, and current singer, William DuVal, is a good singer. I enjoy the show and feel a wave of nostalgia when I hear the songs I know so well.

All the way to our car, we talk about our good luck in our upgrade and being able to hear all these first rate bands for $10. It is a great two-day festival this year with no fires, quick exit from the parking lot, and exposure to new and old music. We do not even complain about the heat. We gambled that it would be worthwhile to attend and we won and we are thankful to KUPD for making this possible.

Email Puma press at pumapress@paradisevalley.edu